Pond // Beard, Wives, Denim // March 6 // Modular
Rock’n’roll is a self cannibalising genre. While every other type of music has evolved throughout the time for better or worse, rock music always finds a way to return to its roots when it needs a rejuvenation. All the best rock albums of the last decade or so sound like they were made half a century ago. Maybe that was the reason why Tame Impala’s debut LP Innerspeaker was such a brilliant album. It didn’t even try to be modern, instead opting to feel like something that came out in the late 60s. That is exactly the reason why it aged so well and is still a pleasant listen to this day. Tame Impala are currently in the process of following it up. In the meantime, two members are also part of a side project Pond, who aim for similar ground but on Beard, Wives, Denim, doesn’t achieve the same highs.
Beard, Wives, Denim is Pond’s first album to be released on a label. Modular is home to Tame Impala and while Pond dwell in the same psychedelic rock swamp, the music on Beard, Wives, Denim is less tight and pleasant than that on Innerspeaker. Pond are not afraid of longer interludes that do not have a strong rhythmical pattern. When It Explodes is a five minute long rock tune that crashes before it evolves just to break out a nonsensical guitar solo that sounds like a kid learning his first riff. Even the longest moments on Innerspeaker were captivating and not a second felt wasted. On Beard, Wives, Denim Pond feel like they’re buying time because there is no strong songwriting to be found. Too many moments on here feel like the part that you would like to skip to get to the good bit and while such records can be hit or miss, listening to every single experiment on here doesn’t feel rewarding at all. It feels like a band trying to reinvent what they already perfected.
I do compare this record to Innerspeaker a lot but I can’t see how anyone couldn’t. It deals with the same sounds and it if was more polished, it could’ve been a follow up to that album. This LP feels more like a collection of half cooked ideas that the band would only share with their closest friends. The last few tracks finish with the band breaking into laughter and conversations. The album is less focused and could as well be recorded in one take. Not to say that it’s all psych wankouts. The middle of the album offer some memorable pop moments. Allergies shows the band recreating the 60s pop sound on one of the best hooks on the album while the follow up You Broke My Cool could’ve easily been a Girls track, shapeshifting between upbeat verses and downbeat lighters in the air chorus. Moth Wings flirts with the cursed harder edge of rock that Aussies seem to love. The LP offers many things but while Tame Impala’s album dealt with it’s influences gracefully and came off as a strong album anyway, Beard, Wives, Denim just feels like a couple of high school kids playing along to some of their favourite classic rock legends.
Innerspeaker was and still is a great record because it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it feels like all the best records that our stoner parents have listened to and is focused from the start until the very last second. It was a psychedelic rock record than anyone could enjoy. Pond’s Beard, Wives, Denim feels like the band just said fuck it and got high somewhere between writing songs and recording them. There’s not enough memorable moments to make it enjoyable for outsiders and yet not enough far out moments to make it into a strong psychedelic journey for fans of the genre. It’s rare that a side project could eclipse the main band but it’s just as rare when a side project’s LP sounds like a couple of b-sides and alternative takes to a really young main band was doing in the first place. The phrase waste of time comes to mind.